Earlier today, Chris Dial wrote a piece about the Mets addressing their known weaknesses sooner rather than later. My take is they definitely should get the bullpen help that they refused to get in the offseason, instead opting for an “options” strategy, over a “talent” strategy.

We always think of addressing needs as an active thing. We should get Player A, promote Player B or fill in holes X, Y and/or Z. Yet beyond that, the Mets have a two-part question they need to discuss. The first part is if they’re going to actively protect trading their top prospects, like they did last year at and before the trade deadline. And the second part is, if not, how much they’re willing to trade for Shohei Ohtani.

If the answer to the first part is yes, then they can cross Ohtani off their list. Because even as just a rental, the price for Ohtani is going to be significantly more than prospects #19 and below, which was what the Mets gave up last year at the deadline.

But if the answer to the first part is no, then they have to decide what they’re giving up to get the top player in the upcoming free agent class. And before you suggest that the Mets just wait for him to reach free agency, keep two things in mind. First, he’d be an awesome addition right now, helping both the starting pitching and offensive issues the club had during their recent stretch of extended poor play.

And the other is that Ohtani is believed to have a strong preference to play on the West Coast. If the Angels deal him to the Mariners or one of the other California teams, there’s a real chance that Ohtani likes his new surroundings and signs an extension before reaching free agency, much like Francisco Lindor did with the Mets when they traded for him.

Speaking of Lindor, the Mets gave up two young position players and two prospects to get Lindor and Carlos Carrasco. That’s the ballpark of an Ohtani acquisition. You can argue the Mets had a full year of control with Lindor – and more of that with Carrasco – so the price shouldn’t be that steep. But Ohtani’s ability to be an impact player both on the mound and in the batter’s box makes up for that. And perhaps makes the price even greater.

There are many different ways the Mets could look to structure the deal. But regardless of the configuration, it’s going to be painful.

Right now, it’s all speculation. The Angels have the same record as the Mets and their top priority is to be a contender and convince Ohtani that he can win a World Series with the only MLB club he’s ever known. But that’s not a bad thing for the Mets. They have time to hold all of the internal conversations they need to determine their appetite for pulling a monster deal to get Ohtani.

Are they willing to trade Brett Baty, Kevin Parada, Alexander Ramirez and Blade Tidwell for Ohtani and Carlos Estevez, the current Angels closer, who has a 1.23 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP, with 29 Ks in 22 IP? Absolutely, that’s a giant haul. But you’re not getting Ohtani for the type of package that they sent to the Giants last year for Darin Ruf.

One last thing to keep in mind is that you’ll hear people say the Mets would need to agree to an extension with Ohtani before pulling the trigger on a trade. My opinion is that they would need to have a verbal agreement with Ohtani that for the right deal, he’s willing to sign an extension and remain on the East Coast.

Because we know Steve Cohen’s not going to be afraid of the cost to retain Ohtani, even if it blows away the dollar amount he spent on Lindor.

9 comments on “The Mets need to determine if they’re willing to trade better prospects than they did a season ago

  • Boomboom

    I think Mauricio s play over the last 12 months has made it much more possible to envision a trade for Ohtani without having to include Alvarez who should be untouchable. It would also hurt to lose Baty. he s looked like a very polished solid major leaguer already. I would start negotiations making those two and Mike Vasil off the table. Take any other 3 offensive minor leaguers and 2 other pitchers.

    I also prefer they go after him at the deadline if available and let him experience playoff baseball in NYC

  • NYM6986

    Still think we wait for Ohtani to become a free agent and not part with any top prospects in the hopes that he signs. I’d like to see them approach the White Sox and snag one of their young relievers as well as approach others teams who are falling farther off the pace and snag a better bench piece then they have. Might as well bring up Mauricio to at worse showcase that he can play at this level or at best install him in the lineup. Can’t be dumpster divers at the deadline and expect to win a title.

  • T.J.

    I just cannot give up a massive group of prospects for an Ohtani rental. They are not at the level of depth that the Dodgers developed. I can live with them falling short in 2023 but retaining that prospect depth. Any acquisitions that cost major prospect numbers need to be controllable for multiple years. The plan stated is to create sustained winning. Continued prospect graduations is a key component of that model. I don’t want to watch the 1980s Yankees repeated in Flushing.

    • Brian Joura

      That’s a reasonable take.

      My opinion is that Ohtani is the guy you break the rules for. My nightmare scenario is that the Dodgers trade for him and he signs an extension with them. The Padres wouldn’t be a much-better outcome but I wonder if they have what it takes to get a deal done. They do have the ability to do a high-stakes challenge deal, sending either Soto or Tatis to the Angels. But my guess is the Angels would prefer less-expensive talent.

      Perhaps the best thing for the Mets is the Angels continuing to play well, making them hold on to Ohtani at the trade deadline. And then to fall apart in August and September, prompting Ohtani to leave. And then for Cohen’s checkbook diplomacy to convince Ohtani that the East Coast isn’t a bad place to be.

  • MikeW

    I love Ohtani, but I don’t like the price for him as a rental. I’d rather keep the youngsters and sign him as a free agent.

  • Steve_S.

    The Mets should not give up their top prospects for an Ohtani rental. I’ll take the chance that Cohen could snag him in the offseason and that he’ll be available.

    There are other good free agents that could be fallback candidates in the offseason (or might even be obtained at the trade deadline for less of a haul):
    SP: Giolito, Urias, Nola, Severino, Montgomery
    RP: Hader
    OF: Pederson

    And I would bring up Mauricio to see what we have with him. To me, you don’t give up a power bat who’s controllable (Vientos, Mauricio, Baty, Alvarez – our “Baby Mets”).

  • Metsense

    The Mets are one a half game behind Miami and Pittsburgh for the last playoff spot. Their weakness is relief pitching and production from the corner outfielders. When they do remote Mauricio then that will help to solve the problem with the corner outfield production. Usually, the trademarket is flooding with relief pitchers before the deadline. Therefore I don’t see a reason to trade a top 10 Prospect for a relief pitcher.
    As for oh Ohtani, the Mets biggest asset is their money. If they can sign up him for an immediate extension, the Mets should trade for him even if it was a top prospect(s) or even Alonso. He is a superstar pitcher and a superstar hitter. Without an immediate extension it would be too risky and expensive for a rental.

  • deegrove84

    If the Mets are trading for just Ohtani with no guarantee of extension I would be willing to offer value above what the Angels get for keeping him. I’d offer Alex Ramirez in the deal but I can’t offer a second Top 10 prospect in the deal. I believe that the Angels are going to demand better and more from the Mets and will ultimately trade him for a package of players that have less value than Alex Ramirez from another team. I will add in any assortment of players ranked 11th and lower in the system but the only blue-chip prospect I’d dangle for a rental is Ramirez.

  • Paulc

    Signing Ohtani seems a pipe dream, so no need to waste a rental on him. Dodgers have Cohen money and they’ll use it to sign him since that’s where he wants to be.

    Better to keep the prospects and get younger (see Chris’ article on the over 34-set). Call up Mauricio to play 2B, move McNeil to OF, and bench Canha/Marte.

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